May 15, 2010

The Big Day

Beckett's first birthday party is today. Jim will take him to swimming in the morning while I get the balloons. We have technicolor cupcakes, mimosas, five children and thirty adults descending on Brookline at 2pm. Although Beckett isn't one until tomorrow, he will smash his face full of cake made from a lamb mold that has been in my family for four generations. We will sing happy birthday. He will be one. ONE. I can hardly believe it. I will post pictures tonight and my special one-year post tomorrow. Stay tuned.

April 9, 2010

And finally, spring.

The day we took Beckett home from the hospital, I looked out of the back window of our (very slowly moving) car and thought, I will always tell Beckett that he was born during the most beautiful spring in recent memory. Most Bostonian's recollection of the Spring 2009 was blotted out by a less than optimal (read: cold and rainy) June, but I remember the spring. It was truly glorious. For those of you who don't live in New England, you have to understand that we don't usually get spring. Rainy, dreary, and cold can last all the way through May some years, followed by a startlingly hot summer. Where were the dewy cool mornings followed by twenty-degree temperature jumps? Why didn't we get to watch the plants and trees slowly come to life? Bostonians don't get to enjoy the systematic appearance of crocus, daffodil, tulip, cherry, hyacinth, and magnolia because we're still bundled up inside our homes waiting for our bones to thaw out.

Perhaps I notice it more now that we live in Brookline, which is significantly more green and lush and generally gorgeous than the dusty swath of South Boston where we used to live. The only green on our old block was the ivy that grew up the side of our building and the enormous scraggly weeds that forced their way out of the blacktop of the abandoned school next door. Perhaps it's global warming. But whatever the cause, this year is shaping up to be as beautiful than last year, and maybe we'll event get a decent June.

More and more trees bloom every day. I work next to the Fenway - a beautfiul stretch of parkland in the middle of the city - and the luminescent green is slowly taking over the grey and brown.

I took this picture while I was walking Beckett to school this week. It isn't our daffodil but I loved the way the early morning sun shone on the bright yellow flower. We have dozens of daffodils in the backyard now. They make me happy every time I look out the back door. The tulips will be here soon.

It was 90 degrees on April 7 - a new record. I found this sign the next day. Lemonade. 25 cents.

It was a rainy March so there is moss everywhere. I love how green and soft and alive it looks.

Beckett and I walk by this house on our walk to school. It is huge and beautiful and old and in ruins. I think people live there because of the garbage cans neatly lined up next to the house but it is badly in need of repair. I loved the lone daffodil sticking up out of the lawn of blue flowers (anybody know what these are called?).

I had a meeting downtown this morning and decided to walk through the Public Gardens on the way back to the train. It was raining but warm and everything hinted of summer.

March 26, 2010


This is what ten months old looks like. Cute, right? This was Beckett last Saturday at a restaurant on Newbury Street, where we went with a friend who was in town for the weekend. It was seventy degrees in Boston that day, perfect for eating outside. Because it was the first really warm day since November, this restaurant was packed to the gills for lunch, which also meant that we waited an hour and a half for a table. But you know what? I didn't even notice. Why? Because this baby is so well behaved in restaurants. I'm not bragging, I swear. I'm just thankful that Beckett has become such a sweet, flexible, and not particularly screechy kid (yet! yet! I know). Because you know what else ten months looks like? He's gone from squishy, immobile, rolly-polly baby to a REAL LIVE PERSON! A person who babbles (albeit incoherently) as if he were carrying on a conversation, with actual inflection and pauses for comment. He whines and moans when he doesn't get what he wants, takes delight in things and laughs out loud. He is, in short, a total joy.

And he has quite the busy social life too. Here he is playing with his friend Meredith, who ties for first as the cutest baby born in the middle of May in 2009. She and Beckett had a ball playing with his activity table a couple of weeks ago. They have come a long way from the little lumps Meredith's mom and I took for walks last summer.

I wanted to write a post about the wonderment and gratitude I feel for the incredible people Beckett has encircled around him. We spent a weekend in New York with my childhood friends at the beginning of the month, and had one of those weekends that felt encased by a warm, pink glow. It was the kind of glow that I took into the next week, until Jim found out that he had lost his job. So things have been a little stressful and a little sad in our house, but we're taking the proverbial lemons and making lemonade, or maybe limoncello. That might do a body and mind some good at this particular moment. It will be fine.

And it's hard to feel totally depressed about the uncertainty of the future when you glance out the window of your kitchen and see the tiny purple heads of several dozen croci pushing out from the muck. Despite the fact that it snowed this morning, spring has officially arrived in Boston and that makes everybody feel a little better.

In a fit of frugality, I decided that we are going to grow our own vegetables and herbs this summer. We have a tiny plot of dirt and I think it would be a fun thing for Beckett to taste something that grew right in our backyard. I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing since I've never grown anything more substantive than cherry tomatoes and mint, but I'm sure that we'll figure it out, and hopefully save hundreds of dollars on fresh produce this summer. And since Beckett has proved himself to be quite the vegetable lover (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), I think he'll have a ball with it.

Life is far from perfect right now, but we are trying to focus on the parts of it that feel solid and certain: friends, family, our child, the flowers blooming in our backyard, the art on our walls, and the last fires in our beautiful fireplace. Everything will be okay.

March 5, 2010

Becoming Zen with The Mess

When Beckett was still a newborn and I was on maternity leave, flocks of people came to visit us each week. They brought gifts and food and STAR magazines, and I loved having a revolving door of entertainment during what was essentially a pretty boring time. Don't get me wrong, I loved being home with my baby and I feel nostalgic for that three months together. But in Boston it rained almost every day for nearly all of June and July, so we stayed indoors and I became hooked on

I also cleaned. A lot. Friends came over and marveled at how clean my house was. "How do you do it with a baby?" they would ask. Seriously guys, the kid slept for hours upon hours a day and there is only so much daytime television, book reading, and web surfing a type-a woman can do. So I cleaned and straightened and organized and did laundry and felt productive. I also became a little smug about it. Look at me! I am a new mother and I can keep my house clean. Let me take a moment to give myself a pat on the back.

Even when Beckett started eating solid food(and by solid I mean mashed peas and rice cereal) it wasn't so bad. He was a mess when we were through but my floors looked spotless! What was all this nonsense about babies throwing food? Myyyyyy baby didn't throw food!

Consider me officially taught a lesson. Jim came home from work (he works every other weekend) on Sunday to find me exasperated, tired, and sullen. "I feel like all I did this weekend was clean and do dishes.", I sulked. "Well, that's probably all you did do." Part of my irritation was due to the fact that our upstairs neighbor is having a major plumbing issue, which impacts us in that they have to run a pipe from her apartment through our kitchen. I was anticipating a huge mess, complete with plaster dust (horrible, awful stuff) and wood shavings. We spend 99% of our time in the kitchen with Beckett, so I was dreading this and preemptively cleaning. But the other major part is that Beckett now throws food. Sigh.

I can't tell you how excited I was when he picked up his first puff and put it in his mouth. Hooray! My baby is feeding himself! Awesome, brilliant, amazing, I am freeeeeee! It took him some time to master the art of actually letting go of the food once it got to his mouth, but he got there. When he's hungry, this kid can clear a tray of Cheerios in nothing flat. I'd dance excitedly across the kitchen squealing 'good job!' until my feet hit the first crunch, and crunch, and crunch. Three pulverized Cheerios on a freshly vacuumed floor later and I was starting to lose it juuuuust a little bit. 
Jim takes it hard too because let's be honest here, he is really the one that cleans the kitchen. I just like things to look clean. He actually wants them to be clean. So when he cleans, he cleans. As in, take all the furniture out of the kitchen, sweep, vacuum, then mop the entire floor, dry it, wipe down all counters and surfaces with vinegar and put everything back. I know, he's amazing. But then Beckett throws handfuls of scallop risotto on the floor or wipes his spinach and potato hands along the side of the fridge and we both have to try very hard not to lose it.
He has also gone from doing 'the worm' to really crawling and he is fast! He can get from one side of the den to the other in nothing flat, and his favorite thing to do is head for the pile of books and toys neatly stacked up in the corner and send them tumbling with a swift swipe of his little hand.

Lately I've just felt like I can't keep up with it. But I have to stop, breathe, and give myself permission to have a messy house. I want my child to explore and discover without worrying about making a mess or getting hurt. I have to somehow reconcile the anal part of myself - the part that wants everything to be pretty neat and tidy and gorgeous - and the cancerian part of myself - the part that wants a house that feels comfortable and well-lived. Mostly I just need to accept the mess and not let it take the focus off having fun with my child, at least for now, when teaching him about being neat and tidy is a waste of energy and breath. 

Or maybe it just means watching an episode of Hoarders (A&E) and recognizing that it's not that bad. Deeeep breath.

February 28, 2010

Infant II

Beckett is moving up to the Infant II class at his daycare on Monday. This means new teachers, new kids, new toys, new room, new schedule, new everything. When I spoke to the director about Beckett moving up, I was giddy and excited. I called Jim immediately after, and we exclaimed and crowed about our big boy. On Friday, when I walked into the Infant I class to pick him up, his teacher told me that he was next door. "Oh!", I said. "How exciting!" So she walked me over to the new class, opened the door, and there he was, sitting on the floor with the rest of the big kids - some who are walking - and instead of being thrilled, I was a little sad.

The one thing that has made this entire parental transition easier is the incredible quality of care that he receives at daycare. Neither Jim nor I have the option to stay home, so we knew from the beginning that we were going to need to find a full-time daycare center. We started looking when I was just starting my second trimester, following the (great) advice of a friend that we should start looking early, not only to ensure that he got a spot in the best place, but because you're still pretty detached and objective. We looked at four centers, all in Brookline and for the most part, all excellent. But there was something about LCSh that made the decision easy, and we put our deposit on a spot a little more than a month before Beckett was born.

He started daycare when he was just shy of three months, and the lead-up to leaving him was fraught with anxiety. I read the parent handbook three times and spent weeks labeling his clothes, bottles, and pacifiers, getting his supplies (lunchbox, blanket, etc) organized and ready for 'school'. I dropped him off on August 2, the same day I started back at work, and was surprised by how fine I was when I left. I knew in my heart that he would be okay, wonderful in fact, in the care of the two teachers and in the company of six other babies. He would make friends, enjoy the weekly traveling musician and daily walks to the park down the street. In the six months since he started dacyare, I have never had a single moment of irritation, anxiety, or worry.

If anything, putting him in daycare has made me feel ever so slightly insecure about my own parenting instincts. One the first cold-ish day this past fall, I noticed that on the line up of hooks, each of which is assigned to a baby, Beckett's was the only one that didn't have a heavy fleece or down onesie hanging off of it for their daily walks. His thin little sweatshirt stood out pitifully from the group. I give myself credit for noticing before I was told (that afternoon) that I should bring in something warmer for him the next day. But I did spend most of the day feeling guilty, and most of that evening squeezing my way through the aisles of the second-hand clothing store for something appropriate.

This is one example of many tiny missteps, but I appreciate the tactful way that the teachers remind me about things, and the fact that they take the time to work with me to provide the best care for Beckett. I know that Beckett will miss his (now three) teachers, but I will miss them as well. Having the end of the day wrap-up conversation with a new teacher on Friday, I felt a little out of sorts. He didn't drink much of his bottle? He cried a little bit when he came to the new room? Did he eat his snack? Huh? What? Who? Where is Rosa?! I want my Rosa!!!! I left my purse on the floor (as I always do when I pick him up), turned around for three minutes and one of the walkers managed to empty its contents onto the floor. The sharpie marker that fell out of it suddenly looked like a gun, and I realized how woefully unprepared I am for this transition. When I was leaving with Beckett, I swung the door out quickly, nearly knocking out one of the other crawling babies (who I guess was in the process of making a break for it). As we were leaving, I was told (tactfully and sweetly of course) that all babies in Infant II were required to wear shoes. Okay, shoes I can do. But what kind of shoes?

We both have a lot to learn. It won't be pretty, but it will be exciting.

February 22, 2010

Five Days

February has been a big month for our family. Jim and I went on a magical vacation to Venice, a trip we have planned since before I was even pregnant with Beckett. It was an incredible, whirlwind five days, but by the end of it my entire body ached to see my baby. It was hard to leave him but I think that it was a good test for all of us. Beckett was no worse for wear, and actually seemed tragically (for me at least) unaffected by the entire experience. He settled into his routine a mile away at my parents' house without batting an eyelash. I know this because after making free wi-fi a criteria for our Venetian apartment search, we lugged our computer to Europe and tried out Skype for the first time. It's fabulous! How did parents travel without their children before the internet? He had no idea what was going on but we got to coo and squeal and just look at him for fifteen minutes a day, which was enough to settle this mom's fears that he wasn't somehow forever traumatized by my disappearance.

I did have my moments. I'd prefer not to admit that I had a crying jag at the end of our first evening, after attending an extraordinary carnevale party at a private palazzo on the grand canal. I felt bad for having such a good time, guilty for being happy when he was so far away. I fought back tears when he banged his head on the coffee table while we skyped, and I could hear his heartbreaking sobs but couldn't be there to make him feel better. The last day was tough, and I have to admit to shedding a few tears over insalata caprese and marinated anchovies (delicious!) while my lunch companions tried not to notice.

But eventually we came home and rushed off the plane and scurried over to his daycare and flew in the door with huge silly grins on our faces. He looked at us with an expression that said something between "Hey! I forgot about you guys!" and "Are you expecting me to do something?" When I picked him up, he reached for the teacher, which broke my heart just a little bit but I deserved it for abandoning him so oh well.

The part that really amazed me was how much Beckett changed in just a few days. He went from a boy that wormed his way across a room to one that was pulling up on everything in sight. The only word for him right now is  BUSY. He went from saying a few little 'da da da's' to babbling non-stop in an almost conversation-like way. With actual pauses for comment. A friend let us borrow an activity table and Beckett sort of liked it from afar when we left. When we came back he crawled (not worming mind you, actual crawling) to the table, put his hands on it, got on his knees, and pulled up to a standing position. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He has also decided that he prefers not to eat anything he can't feed himself, which at this point is almost anything. And although his dexterity and 'pincer grasp' is, I think, pretty stellar, it would take him four hours to eat enough to make him full. So we've resorted to meals every couple of hours to keep him well-fed.

He actually just prefers to feed us and clamp his mouth shut when we try to feed him. I assume this is a phase so I'm trying not to panic. 
The highlight of the past weekend was Beckett's first real trip to the park. It was a whopping 40 degrees in Brookline on Sunday so we ventured out to find a bucket swing. Beckett was none to happy to be strapped into his stroller and yonked down the street in weather that was sunny but didn't exactly feel like 40 degrees. I warmed him up on the regular swing with me and when we plonked him into the bucket swing he smiled, albeit begrudgingly. 


It was an amazing day and a wonderful way to spend our first weekend back. Venice was incredible in ways I cannot even describe, but there is something almost more magical about seeing this when you wake up in the morning.

January 28, 2010


Okay. I know. My absence has been shameful. I could say that I've been busy, with Beckett, with work, with the horrible, terrible thing that is winter in New England. But it would all be bullshit. The reality is that I've spend most of my free time googling "cheap emerald necklaces" and "finger food for babies+8 months".

Also, so much has happened since the last post, that it seems too overwhelming to even talk about. Jim keeps saying 'he really changed after Halloween'. He's right. Beckett has become a real person in ways that I never expected, and in ways that continue to delight both Jim and me daily. I'm sure that he's no different than any other 8 month (and two weeks!) old baby, and certainly no less interesting to his parents. But the 'firsts' of the last two months have been so fast and furious that it seems impossible to keep up.

So I choose not to keep up, and instead busy myself with posting video after video on Facebook or YouTube. That's enough right?

No! It's not enough. I can't even bring myself to read the first post of this pseudo-blog because I know that I made a promise to myself, and most importantly to Beckett, that I would chronicle the first year of his life. So much for that.

So in an attempt to summarize the last two months of (exponential) growth, here you go.

Beckett has produced his first FOUR teeth. We have two on 'film' (but I can't find the picture) and two we do not (because they are tiny little nubbin teeth that I have only been able to feel, not see). However, I will say that the best teething toy, if he doesn't break it, is an emptied bottle of beer straight from the fridge. Cold, hard, and great for an inapropriate photo-op.

I swear that it was empty. 
Beckett has learned to talk a bit. Not actual words, but some sounds like "da da da da" and "grrrrrrr". As you can probably imagine, his father just LOVES that da da came first and that he hasn't seemed willing (or in my opinion, able) to make the word 'ma ma'. Na na na has started, which is clearly the precursor to "NO!". Awesome!

There have been lots of milestones. He went from lying on his belly, to pulling his legs up, to rocking back and forth, to pulling his butt up in the air in a position most resembling 'downward facing dog', to doing 'the worm', to actually and legitimately (although not gracefully) crawling. He did that last night before bed, and then proceeded to wake up every couple of hours to practice. 

He started eating real food. Not mushy peas or strained chicken (SO GROSS) but cheerios and puffs and tonight, actual tiny pieces of venison chili, which he absolutely loved. Here he is eating eggs for the first time, and loved every minute of it. 

Who doesn't love scrambled eggs? I confess that I ate what he did not (something I will not do with the pureed and cold country chicken and vegetables).

He rocks and claps and sings, jumps with joy in his jumperoo, and generally acts like a happy, blissed out baby. And he is still such a complete and utter joy. We won't go into what an amazing (and good) baby he is - we don't want to be those parents. But we're seriously awesome in this little neck of Boston. I wish we could get out more and that the snow would go somewhere else, but those are all forced complaints. Life is good.

Jim and I leave for a trip to Venice (Italy, not California) in two weeks. Our friend Kate has decided to tag along. We are not bringing Beckett, but leaving him to his comfortable routine with his grandparents, who will no doubt spoil him rotten and feed him chocolate pudding. We'll miss him, of course. But it will also be great to go away and focus on each other in a place that seemed made for love. 

So I probably won't post until we get back. Maybe we'll put Beckett in one of our carnevale masks and post a picture. Stay tuned.